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Dig in to some tasty food films

Enjoy eating but don't put on a pound. No wonder movies with food in them are popular. Call it a fireman's holiday; call it wistful thinking but I'm addicted. Here are some worthwhile food-related films to digest and you don't have to heat up the kitchen. None of these are new, so you'll probably have to rent them.

Note that, unlike reality TV, there's no real meanness here; none of the usually unnecessary barfing scenes that are becoming so ubiquitous in today's cinema (these scenes are beginning to make me nauseous).

Just good entertainment here and maybe a hidden message or two, but pop up some corn, sit back and enjoy. (We can discuss those messages later.)

"Babette's Feast." I've seen this one ?at least three times and cry every time. The food film to end all food films, ?it's based on an Isak Dinesen tale of ?two spinster sisters, living an ascetic life in a Godforsaken Scandinavian village. Then they take in a Parisian refugee who cooks them a glorious all-out meal and a bunch of stern church members share the results.

Beautiful to look at and subtle – my favorite scene goes by in a second when one of the guests makes a mistake and grabs a goblet of water rather than wine. The disappointment on her face when she tastes the results is memorable.

"Big Night." Two Italian brothers, Primo and Secondo, try to make a success of their New Jersey restaurant but their potential customers want spaghetti and meatballs not the authentic treats purist Primo offers.

So they invite big bandleader Louis Prima to a banquet to give them publicity.

Minnie Driver is in this. And Allison Janney (surprise!) and Stanley Tucci as Secondo is marvelous.

"Tampopo." Japanese film and a story about a truck driver helping a widow turn her delicious soup into a successful business. Great food shots.

"Like Water for Chocolate." Love, heartbreak, and maybe a little too much magic in this film about a forsaken cook whose sadness somehow gets into her food and affects everyone who eats it. A little too much Hollywood here maybe, but well worth watching on a rainy day. And nice to look at.

"Julie and Julia." The newest of the films mentioned above. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell who vows to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's classic book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." All within a year.

Director Nora Ephron cleverly weaves Powell's true story with the older woman's autobiography "My Life in France" and predictably, reviewers loved Meryl Streep as Child. It's fun and it's even a little educational. But I found it a little disappointing, too. This could (and should) have been better. Anyone have other suggestions?

Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at